a frustrating day in the office

a frustrating day in the office

It’s a frustrating day so far.  Nothing has happened that is terribly tragic. There has been nothing that I can’t handle. I just feel stressed up to my eyeballs and beyond.

There are reasons for the feelings of stress, some better than other — as if any feeling is more or less good than any other.  Feelings just are.  Feelings happen to us, and we have little control over when or how they will happen.  Once we recognize the physical and emotional symptoms of a particular feeling, then we can learn how to control our response to it. But feelings themselves are neither good nor bad.

So I feel stressed. Physically, I feel jumpy. My senses feel raw, as if my eyes and ears and tongue and nose and skin have all gotten abraded, rug-burned. Every thing that even comes near — doesn’t even have to make contact, just come close enough to be sensed – startles me and makes me jump.

I thought terribly uncharitable and self-righteous things about the co-worker across the room who plays music out loud in a cubicle environment. I fantasized about throwing his things out the window, leaving passive-aggressive notes, asking his manager to say something. Finally I just IMed him. “Hey, I’m reaching sensory overload. Could you maybe switch to headphones, please?”  He turned it down. That helped a lot. But I’m still stressed and jumpy.

I spent some time on a Zentangle, and that was good. But then I noticed emails coming in with questions I needed to respond to. And teammates needed to ask questions, and decisions needed to be made, and I had to quit treading water and jump back into the flow of work again… when what I really want is to float on my back for a while, closing my eyes, feeling the sun warming my skin,  knowing that the water is holding me up and supporting me, feeling that the world is giving me everything I need in that moment.

For now, I hold that image in my mind and heart – hear and feel and smell and taste it – until I need to start swimming again.


Odds and Ends

It’s a quiet morning at the new apartment.  My little desk faces a window, just as it did back at the house, and I get to look at at the little strip of “yard” behind our apartment, as well as the trees and townhouses beyond the fence.  I can see blue sky and morning sunlight through the pines, and I hear birds and crickets softly chirping outside.

On Wednesday, the movers came to bring the heavy and big items from the house to this apartment.  We were fortunate that my grandmother sent us gift money to pay for the move; I still have no idea how we could have done this without it.  We’re unpacking gradually and were even able to cook our own supper last night.  Our dishes and glasses and pans are all unpacked and put away; our clothes are unpacked into our dressers; we have shower curtains and bathmats.  The TVs are both hooked up to cable and to DVD players, and our music CDs are on shelves now.  There are probably more than 20 boxes of books; those will take the longest to unpack, sort, shelve, and repack (for the ones that we just don’t have the shelf space for in the house).  We’re very lucky to have a large storage shed that is part of the apartment; some of the larger and infrequently used kitchen appliances and baking pans are out there, and I’m betting a dozen book boxes will join them.

On Wednesday, I’d forgotten to bring over my bag of prescription medications, so I had a long night, with plenty of wakefulness, tossing and turning, and ouchies.  Yesterday morning we picked it up, and I had a much more peaceful night last night.  After a blissful shower this morning, I could begin my workday.  Cash is going to be tight for the next week or so, but we’re going to be all right.  We really will be.  After the fear, the frustration, the hard work, the weariness: we’re going to be all right.

There’s still a lot of work to do.  I have lots of address-changing to do with banks and driver’s license and newspaper.  We still have a lot of little stuff over at the house that we just didn’t get packed in time.  We need to pack up our coolers and bring over the food from the refrigerator and freezer.  The dirty laundry from the last week is still over there, and I want to get it washed and put away.  There are still things to find in boxes, phone calls to make, bills to pay.  Life is continuing to move on, and every morning, the sun will shine between the pines, where I can watch it from my desk.

I rather hope today stays quiet, refreshing.  My heart yearns to bask in silence and peace.  Contemplation feeds me.  It’s a quiet morning at the apartment.  And all will be well.

The coming weeks

By way of a status update, since I have been so remiss in posting lately, let me tell you about the next several weeks for me.

Weekly choir rehearsals have ended for the summer, but we still sing from the loft every Sunday and lead the hymns. Next Sunday, I’ll be playing my favorite Bach Sonata during worship, and I’m very excited. This will be my first time playing flute at Old Donation since joining the congregation.

In just under two weeks, I’ll be moving into my own apartment. Except for six months in 1998 and 1999, I have lived my entire life with my parents or with my soon-to-be-ex. This year, I have really been asserting my independence and individuality – my unique child-of-God-ness – and it will be very good to live on my own. I’ve been packing and preparing, and there’s still a lot of work ahead of me. But I’m pretty excited about this.

In my job, I crunch lots of data to analyze, report on, and forecast the revenue for my program. It’s a complicated procedure, because there are several factors involved, and I have a blast with it. But what basically happens is around the fifth or sixth of the month, I get the monthly billing report, and the work begins. It remains very busy until about the end of the third week of the month, at which point my regular reporting is complete, and the managers are all gearing up for their monthly program management review. Then the last week of the month, I’ve been travelling up to our corporate headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, to help with final preparations for the PMR and then to participate in. I usually have a few days of downtime after that before the next billing report comes in, and in that time I’m working on bigger analyses and database development and stuff like that. Last month, the April and May PMRs were five weeks apart, but this month they’re four weeks apart, so I’ll be a little more crunched as far as time goes.

After the June PMR, I’ll be heading north into Ontario to visit friends. It looks like I’ll be in Ottawa for Canada Day, which is very cool. I’m very much looking forward to the change of scenery and the change of pace. I’ll get back home July 6, and then that next Sunday I’ll get to go on my first mentored visit as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor – taking Communion to a parishioner who can’t make it to church for Sunday worship. The LEVs receive their kits at the altar as soon as the congregation has taken part in the feast, and are dismissed from the altar to take the consecrated elements to our brothers and sisters who can’t physically be with us. It is an important ministry, both to let those people know that they are still part of the parish, and to remind those of us in the building on Sunday that we have parishioners out there who need our prayers, support, and visits.

And then, on Monday, July 16, I’ll be having surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. It sounds like I’ll be in a sling, unable to do pretty much anything, for the first two weeks. And I’ll be homebound, not allowed to drive, for the first six weeks after surgery. I’ll have to be taken to physical therapy after the operation, and to keep up with my exercises at home. At this morning’s LEV training, I got to meet the lady who chairs the congregational care commission at Old Donation, so I’m on her list for next month already. 🙂 The rector has already told me about all the incredibly supportive things that the parish stands ready to do for me, and some of the ladies in the choir have clued me in that they are not going to leave me alone to face this myself. So even though it’s pretty big and scary, especially in the face of my separation, I know I’m going to be well cared for. Thanks be to God!

What a Day!

Yesterday was a full day for me. In our pre-meeting for today’s Management Review – yes, I just admitted to participating in a pre-meeting – I fielded lots of questions. Meanwhile, I’d been given a pressing task that absolutely had to be completed by the end of the day. Sitting in the conference room, with managers talking around me and firing questions at me, I just could not concentrate. Finally, late in the day, I moved back to my guest cubicle, put on my headphones, and listened to a calming collection of sacred music to help me focus on that task. And when I heard someone approach to open a conversation in a nearby cubicle, I’d start singing along softly – just my subtle way of saying, “Leave me alone.” 🙂

At lunchtime yesterday, I escaped to On the Border at the Reston Town Center to meet a fellow blogger. It was great to meet him for the first time, after corresponding for several months and learning that I’d driven past his parish four different times on my way from our office to the ODU distance-learning center up here. We had a great talk, and though we come from different perspectives, shared our sadness at the way our beloved church is tearing itself apart. It was nice to recognize our different perspectives, but acknowledge that all of us are needed in the body of Christ.

And for dinner last night, I met three long-time friends (and three accompanying family members) from the Magdalen email list community. We had a great meal and wonderful conversation, and it was so great to finally meet these people I’ve known for years. At least one of the three friends is someone I’ve known since 1997, but had never met face to face. We’ve been members of spiritual online communities together since then. It’s amazing how the internet can bring people together in this way, especially since I came to Northern Virginia for business, and took advantage of the opportunity to meet friends while here.

When I got back to my room after dinner, I was exhausted! For an introvert, six hours in the conference room, plus a blogmeet and a listmeet – this was quite a full day! Today I’m participating in the management review, and have been relieved that the executives aren’t in the room with us this month as we iron out some tough issues. As tiring as this week is for me, I really enjoy being part of these sessions, helping the managers understand their numbers, digging into the data to unearth answers to questions that bubble to the surface. I’ve been told by more than one person that I work very well as a “right hand man” – that I’m gifted at being the person behind the one in the spotlight, who knows where all the information is, who knows how to make the right stuff happen, who comes through to make the leader look successful in front of his or her bosses or customers or employees. And that’s what this week is about for me – giving the managers the support they need to look successful in front of program management and the executives.

So thankfulness, gratitude… I’m thankful to be working in my role right now, as hard as it can be to define and explain. I’m thankful to have a supportive boss, and to support internal customers who show appreciation to me. I’m glad to be able to have the opportunity to come up here once a month to meet with my teammates and to get some face-time in front of my boss and executive management (scary as that can be sometimes). I’m grateful to be able to meet some of the friends who have been the companions on my journey over the last ten years.

Busy Week

I’m not sure how well I’ll keep up with the blog this week. Life continues to be crazy, and this week I’m in northern Virginia at the monthly Program Management Review. Since I’m responsible for reporting revenue, I get to spend three days in a conference room with managers in the room, on the phone, and on the web conference, reviewing budgets and profit/loss statements, and reporting on trends and forecasts and new accomplishments over the month. What joy! What fun! What… oh, who am I kidding? You already know I’m an introvert! But I know this is one of those things that is Good For Me, and I do actually enjoy it, even though it exhausts me. Right now I’m listening to my second conference call of the day, and have been answering questions from various directions all afternoon.

I’m also becoming very aware of the marks that all the busy-ness and stress have been leaving on my body. Yes, the shoulder has its issues, and the pain flares worse when I’m stressed. I also have a muscle spasming at my left jawline, causing pain, ringing, and a full sensation in that ear. There’s a muscle spasm going on in my left hip joint, which hurts when I sit too long or stand in funny positions. And yesterday, the muscle across the back of my skull started to spasm as well. Yes, not only is there a muscle across the back of your skull, but it can cause excruciating pain when it spasms! I experienced this a few years ago, was diagnosed with intractable migraine, and given all sorts of injections and pills before finally getting a massage. So on arrival in northern Virginia, first thing after setting up my laptop, I found a nearby massage therapy center and called in desperation for an appointment. I can’t WAIT.

Tomorrow, I have two exciting things on my schedule. First, I’m meeting DaddyRob for lunch, and then at dinner, I’m meeting several friends from Magdalen and OSM. I’m very excited about both! I think this will make seven online friends whom I’ve never before met – plus one I’ve met exactly once, about eight years ago – all in one big day. And those discussions should be much more interesting than all the leveraging and utilizing and facilitating in the conference room all day. 🙂


Today, in southeastern Virginia, it is very windy. My current weather information says sustained winds of 28mph, with gusts over 40mph. There are branches down all over the place, some fences and gutters falling, and I’m grateful that our power lines are buried. Breathe on me, breath of God? Okay… but does it have to be so blustery?

This morning was my first Sunday singing with the choir. I was nervous until I got there. I vested in the choir room, walked over to the nave, and settled into the loft. Listened to our organist practice some of his music while other choir members trickled in, and then we warmed up together. Until about two minutes before the service, it looked like I was going to be the only first soprano there, and one of only three sopranos there total. Then another first showed up, but she’s recovering from bronchitis, so she did her best. I also learned that sopranos usually lead the procession, but not being terribly familiar with what I was supposed to do, I made someone else go in front. Not that it was difficult, but I didn’t want to lead on my very first Sunday. It was heavenly, and I am so very, very thankful for coming to this parish and meeting these people and joining this choir.

Last night, my husband and I had a talk with our children, and now I can come out and say here what I’ve been dancing around since late March. My husband and I are separating, after almost-fifteen years of marriage. This has been a long time coming, and it has only been recently that I’ve been healthy and strong enough to do what I need to do for myself. It is sad, and it sucks, but that is where we are. We are discussing how to divide everything up, and are going to try for a 50/50 custody split. After the initial pain and shock and anger, I think (hope, pray) that we’ll be able to do this thoughtfully, intelligently, compassionately, and maturely. (And yes, I pray these things every bit as much for myself as for my soon-to-be ex. I know I’m far from perfect, by any means.)

There is a scene in the movie Ever After, which is a retelling of the Cinderella story. After going through all kinds of horrible stuff, Danielle arrives at the ball, dressed in a white gown as an angel. And she stands at the top of the stairs, hesitating before plunging into the middle of everything, and says to herself: Just breathe. It is a purely magical moment in the movie and has always been very powerful for me. There have been many times when I’ve plunged forward into something without taking that little pause to just be in the moment, to just breathe. There is someone, who may just be the best friend I’ve ever had, who reminds me when I’m freaking out about something to just breathe. I can’t tell you how powerful that advice has been. When it feels like everything is falling apart, go back to the basics. Breathe. Close your eyes. Feel your body, the skin and everything surrounding it. Take inventory of the sensations, internal and external. Inhale, exhale. And if the emotions or the thoughts are just too much, then just stay right there, just being in its pure physical form for a time.

This will be a hectic week for me. It is my busiest time of the month at work, and both children have their spring concerts on different nights this week. Choir rehearsal – of course! – and this weekend I have a wedding rehearsal, the wedding, and then a dinner to play flute at on Sunday. The following weekend, I have a wedding down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and I’m looking forward to even that slight change of scenery for a little recharging. The thing about playing the flute, like singing, is that breathing is so important. You have to focus on your breathing, have to be intentional about it. Your breath shapes the music. This week, I will try to keep that advice in mind, to just breathe. It’s good advice, and I’m grateful for it. Thank you, Friend. You know who you are!

Calling All Geeks!

Of your goodness, dear readers, I need recommendations for an inexpensive X client for Windows.

I get to play DBA today, on the Solaris server that’s all mine (my precious!). I’m a little daunted at the task, because

  • I haven’t worked in X for about 6 years
  • I haven’t worked with a version of Oracle later than 8i (yes – the government network I work on just upgraded from 8i to 9i in the last quarter of 2006), and this is 10 (g I think?)
  • I am a designer and developer, not a DBA
  • I will have to learn how to manage and use BI Discoverer
  • I received last week a 12-pound box of Oracle CBTs that go over all this stuff – like I have two weeks to spend perusing CBTs when I have work to do!

I am reminded of my assembly language class in college. In assembly language, you’re programming just one level above the ones and zeroes (bit-twiddling, as we called it), so it’s very easy to mess things up. We were using 8088s, and all our work was on 3.5″ floppies. I once succeeded in turning on the “busy” light on the floppy drive – even though it was not accessing the disk – and then locking up the entire machine. What fun!

I’d prefer not to do this in a professional environment, and have to call the guys in Minnesota several times in a day to ask them to hit the reset button for me, because I’ve hosed the server again.

UPDATE: Holy crap! It turns out that I have to install Oracle 10g. And Warehouse Builder. And BI Discoverer. And make sure they’re all patched and updated. Oh yeah, and have all that financial information ready for the program management review next week. I am toast.

UPDATE #2: Okay, so it’s not quite that bad. It looks like all those components are installed, just not running. Of course, I have no idea what gets kicked off in what order, so more research is in order. I’m pretty good at research, but I don’t like having to be researching when I want to be doing. It’s turning into a roller-coaster of a day.